Series Three: Blog Seventy-Six
Recovery is never a static proposition. Once you decide that you have had enough chaos, heartache and hangover, it doesn’t all go away by attending a 12-step meeting. Rather than being “born again” once and for all, there is need for rebirth each and every day.
I like to establish goals for the next day before I retire each night. When I awake very early each day, I look at my goals and I question “why?” or wonder “what was I thinking?” I begin to build excuses for why it can’t be done. Every day in the early morning hours I must make a daily adjustment in attitude before I begin.
Long term sobriety requires the flexibility of making daily adjustments with attitude, thoughts and awareness of feelings. The way to serenity is often a circuitous journey. A rigid black and white outlook must give way to a malleable reality of life as it is. The world will not cooperate and pave the way for you to create the serenity you hope for and deserve. You must create it, be it and live it by directing the energies of your life toward harmony within, without controlling the environment outside. There are many things you can control—your schedule, daily actions, attitude, thoughts and mindsets. However, you cannot control other people in the world around you. The world is imbalanced, chaotic, unjust and unfair. Every day tragedies occur and lives are snuffed out with no more regard than a swatted mosquito. Someday your life will be a fatality statistic read by others.
Transforming this dour reality into a meaningful destiny demands a strategy that I refer to as a daily adjustment strategy (DAS). It starts with the Serenity Prayer in accepting the things you cannot change. You cannot change people, most circumstances or the problematic conditions that plague society and the world around you. However, when you do accept the things you cannot change, you position yourself to influence others with positive energy and empowered action. Step by step you can impact with positive force the energy and behavior of others around you.
Courageously, you change the things you can. When your attitude sucks, you can transform it with humility. By choice, you do not surrender to the forces of depression, darkness and defeat. When you are down, you lean into it and accept that ups and downs are part of recovery and you accept the downs as being human. Even when down you can still do the next right thing.
Depression is a life experience that can dominate. I remember being shut down by depression. I had no emotional energy and was overwhelmed with darkness. Yet, even then I changed the things I could. At the time, though unconscious of it, I did reach out to two friends and my wife who enrolled me in a psychiatric hospital. Even though I stared at a piece of fuzz on the window for hours, I did make the choice to be in a healing space that eventually saved my life. While gazing at a window, I decided to eat, to sleep and join the living again. I began making daily adjustments that transformed my life. I had lost 40 plus pounds in six weeks. I tried to end my life more than once. I learned to make a daily adjustment just to breathe each day. I was knocked down but not knocked out. I learned to fight—more for me and less for others. At first, I just fought—anyone and everything. I fought a guy who threw a chair into a TV while I was watching a Cubs game just to see it explode. Today I am not even a Cubs fan. I beat the hell out of my Bible until my knuckles were bloody in a padded cell. I needed to do those things to come back from the dead into the land of the living. It was a part of my daily adjustment at that time. From there I learned to be resilient and committed to positive reason. I became open to correction. I learned to champion doing what was right for me.
Recovery requires that you learn the difference between what you can and cannot change. People get lost trying to change others behavior, outlook and poor habits. It can become extreme to the point that you lose your own identity. Daily, you must clarify your expectations about what you want to change. Learn to realistically examine what’s going on. What is sensible in what is happening where the rubber meets the road in your life. Learn to trim away unrealistic expectations and employ a sweet reasonableness to what can and cannot be done. Bring yourself back relentlessly to the change you can control within you. Let go of others and quietly observe the transformation that happens in your world because of your daily adjustment and never-ending pursuit of shaping the destiny that exists within you. It all begins with your daily adjustment strategy. Are you ready to sift and sort the adjustments that are necessary today?
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